Voices from Russia

Saturday, 10 January 2009

New Year’s Hit: Circus Show “Camelot”


The Zapashnykh brothers with one of their trained tigers

250,000 people, a number equal to a fairly-large European city, attended the New Year Circus Show Camelot in Moscow. It shall run from 27 December to 11 January. This show was the inspiration of the brothers Edgard and Askold Zapashnykh, two young performers who are the scions of a famous circus dynasty. As they are expert wild-animal trainers, their names are inscribed in the Guinness Book of World Records. Their signature feat is leaping onto the back of a lion. Energetic, talented, and driven, the Zapashnykh brothers are always looking for something new and unique. By all standards, their fantasy play Camelot is a one-of-a-kind spectacle!

“We went beyond the scope of the usual 13-metre (42-foot) ring, the traditional scope of the circus was too confining for us”, Askold stated, explaining why they had to stage this presentation in an enormous sport arena. “We can say, with great pride, that there is no analogue to Camelot in all of Russia. The circus, like all other kinds of show business, has to evolve, first of all, due to developments in other art-forms. We used the latest techniques to make a theatrical-circus spectacle with video-screens, pyrotechnics, laser effects, historical costumes, and even a water-tank with many-coloured fountains”.

100 performers and 70 trained animals perform stories from medieval epics. The Zapashnykh brothers, as in real life, play the roles of brothers, one of them symbolises the Bright Forces, whilst the other portrays the Dark Forces. The struggle of Good and Evil is treated seriously, and the tricks performed by the brothers seem beyond the reach of human possibility. For example, the brothers perform in a cage with 14 lions and tigers… why, no one in their right mind would dare to remain in close proximity to so many predators! Where else is it possible to meet polyglot parrots? The bright and handsome “parrots” (performers in costume) speak so many languages, from French to Chinese. In the battle scenes, the world-famous horse ménage directed by Mukhtarbek Kantemirov perform wonders. Well, in the water-tank, there are girls doing synchronised swimming garbed as “goldfish”. By the way, amongst them are some of our Olympic champions in synchronised swimming! Is it any wonder that the circus show Camelot became a real New Year’s hit in Moscow?

9 January 2009

Voice of Russia World Service



Ukrainian Blackmail: A Serious Argument for Accelerating the Diversification of Delivery Routes for Russian Natural Gas Shipments to Europe


President Medvedev sees the Ukrainian attempt at gas blackmail as a major argument in favour of accelerating the development of alternative routes for the transportation of Russian natural gas to Europe. On Friday, Mr Medvedev talked to Aleksei Miller, the CEO of the natural gas-producing company Gazprom. He said freezing Europeans were held hostage by Ukrainian blackmail and suggested that Gazprom reach out to new customers and expand its operations into new areas. A growing market will increase Gazprom’s profits and better meet the interests of Russia. On the whole, it shall answer the questions surrounding a guarantee of global energy security.

The gas crisis prompted stepped-up efforts in search of new routes for the delivery of Russian gas to Europe. New transportation pipelines had best bypass the unpredictable Ukrainian state. Stepped-up efforts under the North Stream pipeline venture would be a good solution to the gas delivery problem. Once the North Stream pipeline is laid at the bottom of the Baltic Sea, Russia will be able to pump gas directly to Western Europe. Mr Miller, the Gazprom CEO, is sure that the availability of alternative routes will reduce the role of transit countries in the delivery of Russian natural gas to Europe.

According to Mr Miller, “The strategy developed by Gazprom centres on the diversification of its transportation routes. Today, we are concentrating on two big ventures, the North Stream and the South Stream, which will enable us to pipe our natural gas across the Black Sea directly to Bulgaria. By the way, the Balkan countries have been hit worst by the current crisis. Therefore, we have all the more reason for stepped-up action under the South Stream project. If our western partners ask Gazprom to increase the capacities of the South Stream and Nord Stream gas pipelines and speed up their construction, then, it is certain that we will eagerly accept that proposal”.

Europe is the largest consumer of Russian energy resources. However, at the same time, Gazprom is also studying a number of major projects to transport gas to Asia and constructing gas liquefying plants. This will make it possible to be able to deliver gas to practically all regions of the world, including South America and South-Eastern Asia, where an increased demand for energy is noted today. This diversification of natural gas markets shall be one of the most important factors in laying a firm foundation for global energy security.

That is why Russia aims to carry out a more flexible energy policy, amidst the attempts of some of the consuming countries to politicise gas cooperation with Moscow. In this connection, Prime Minister Vladimir Putin warned some countries in Europe against impeding the construction of the North Stream pipeline; otherwise, Russia would reconsider the scheme of its deliveries from the Schtockman deposit in the Barents Sea. In particular, Russia could focus more on liquefying gas for markets in the USA and Asia.

10 January 2009

lada-korotunLada Korotun

Voice of Russia World Service


Russia and the EU Sign a Gas Transit Control Protocol


Russia and the EU signed a protocol to set up an international commission to control the transit of Russian natural gas through the Ukraine. The document was signed by Russian Deputy Prime Minister Igor Sechin, CEO Aleksei Miller of the energy giant Gazprom, as well as Martin Riman, the industry and trade minister of the Czech Republic, which is holding the rotating presidency in the EU.

Russia was forced to halt transit deliveries via the Ukraine on Wednesday after a check established that the Ukraine was not transporting any gas to Europe. Moscow said supplies would resume when a multilateral commission was formed to monitor transit via the Ukraine. “We will do this [resume transit supplies] immediately after international monitors take charge of entry and exit points on the border between the Ukraine and Russia, as well as on the Ukraine’s borders with other European countries”, Prime Minister Vladimir Putin said following talks with his Czech counterpart Mirek Topolánek. “Monitors should also be sent to European countries bordering on the Ukraine”.

Under an agreement reached between Russia and the EU on Saturday, Gazprom, the Ukrainian company Naftogaz, the Russian and Ukrainian energy ministries, the European Commission, European consumer companies, and international monitoring organisations will be represented in the international commission being set up to monitor trans-Ukrainian gas deliveries, Mr Putin said. He said he could see no obstacles to the Ukraine’s signing the protocol now that it has been signed by Russia and the EU. “I assume the document should now be signed in Kiev and I see no grounds for not doing so”, Mr Putin said during a news conference. According to the Ukrainian media, Czech Prime Minister Mirek Topolánek could meet with the Ukrainian leadership on Saturday evening. Mr Putin warned that Russia would not put up with gas theft in future. “If we notice that gas is being stolen again on Ukrainian territory and part of deliveries vanish, we will reduce supplies by this volume”, he said.

On Wednesday, Kiev closed the fourth and final gas pipeline pumping Russian gas to Europe. The latest closure added Austria, the Czech Republic, Romania, and Slovakia to the growing list of countries receiving no Russian gas. The three other pipelines were closed on Tuesday, ending deliveries via Ukraine to Hungary, Serbia, Macedonia, Croatia, Bulgaria, Turkey, Greece, and Bosnia. Supplies to Italy, Poland, France, and Slovenia were seriously disrupted. Gazprom accused the Ukraine, which accounts for some 80 percent of Russian gas exports, of stealing more than 86 million cubic meters of gas since the start of the year, but, Kiev denied the accusations, saying that Russia was trying to discredit the Ukraine as a reliable gas transit partner. Mr Putin said that a “clan war” over financial sources inside the Ukraine, particularly ahead of elections at different levels, was what had brought about the transit crisis. “Although this has been an economic dispute, we have been hostage to political problems inside the Ukraine”, Mr Putin said when asked whether the transit crisis was due to political differences between Russia and the Ukraine.

Gas supplies from Russia to European consumers through the Ukraine started falling in the first days of 2009, after Russia and the Ukraine failed to agree on how to settle Kiev’s gas debts or on a contract for 2009 deliveries in their last-ditch talks on New Year’s Eve, which made Moscow cut off gas to the Ukraine. Moscow insists that Kiev pay the market price for natural gas. “If the price for gas Gazprom supplies to Eastern European states bordering the Ukraine is around 470 dollars (13,699 roubles. 349 euros. 309 UK pounds) per 1,000 cubic metres in the first quarter of 2009, then, the Ukraine should also pay the market price for gas”, Gazprom spokesman Sergei Kupriyanov told journalists on Friday. Gazprom earlier offered Ukraine a price of 250 dollars (7,286 roubles. 185 euros. 164 UK pounds) per 1,000 cubic metres for gas in 2009, about half the current average price in Europe. Mr Putin said the price was tantamount to “humanitarian aid”. The Ukraine, which paid 179.50 dollars (5,232 roubles. 133 euros. 118 UK pounds) per 1,000 cubic metres last year, said it was prepared to pay 200 to 235 dollars (5,829 to 6,849 roubles. 148 to 174 euros. 131 to 154 UK pounds) per 1,000 cubic metres. After their refusal, Gazprom said the price could be 418 dollars (12,183 roubles. 310 euros. 275 UK pounds) per 1,000 cubic metres.

10 January 2009



Editor’s Note:

To hear that the Orangies turned down an offer from Gazprom that was only 53 percent of the going market rate! They are not only thieves, they are STUPID thieves. Why has Russia been giving this squirrelly lot such knockdown rates in the first place? They haven’t been giving a proper quid pro quo for the favour, that’s for certain! I believe that the USA has been blackmailing Russia (Russia is not bullying its neighbours if they are receiving a discount, that’s for sure) since 1991. Well… the US economy is in freefall… the US budget deficit next year is estimated at 1.2 trillion dollars at the least… the US forces are war-weary and troop morale is in the toilet… In short, Russia sees that the USA cannot threaten them in any realistic manner. Ergo, Russia can demand market prices from this ungrateful lot and get it. It’s only fair.

The Orangies had best step lightly. They are now exposed as a corrupt and self-centred cabal that gouges their own people and sells off the arms of their forces without any of the funds realised going into the state treasury, so, they’d best mend their ways. I feel sad for the peoples of the Ukraine; they are being rooked by their so-called “leadership”. I also feel sorry for the Galician diaspora; their patriotic feelings are being used and abused by unscrupulous operators. No one, not even one’s opponents, should be treated in such a fashion.

Yushchenko delenda est.


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